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Showing posts from January, 2008

Learning as a Cause Marketer

What do you do, as a cause marketer, to keep learning?

How you answer the question of self-education determines things like: how successful your cause-related marketing campaigns are, indeed, how successful you are; your income; your lifespan; researchers have even shown a correlation between happiness and education.

It’s almost axiomatic that more you know the more you want to know (and as Socrates pointed out, the more you realize how little you do know)!

I hope this will be a conversation rather than a monologue or disquisition, so I invite you to comment on what you do to stay on top of your game.

Business/General Interest
I subscribe to and read a number of business magazines so as to understand current issues, trends, economics and the like, as well as several news magazines. Since I don’t have a business degree I feel like this reading has gone a long way in advancing my understanding of business. I also read newspapers, but mainly online. I especially admire the reporting in the Wa…

Answer a Question, Help Darfur

Eric Cheung, an aspiring social entrepreneur and a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, has a big question: would you like to help the stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan?

Cheung is answering that question with an intriguing cause-related marketing approach.

He may also have the answer to a lot of urgent if less grave questions that university students in particular have at his new website, OneBigU.com.

Here’s the premise: students post questions at OneBigU. For instance, “what is the Albedo Effect?” Other students from across the world, give the answers. “The albedo of an object is the extent to which it diffusely reflects light from the sun.”

The site features Google Ads that generates revenue. A small honorarium, split out from the Google Ads revenue is put into a ledger account in the name of the answerer for each accepted response. The person may take the honorarium or donate it to Help Darfur Now, a nonprofit founded in 2005 by high school students to help address the Darfur…

Paul Jones in Western & Engish Today Magazine

At the risk of being immodest, your's truly was quoted several times in a recent article on cause-related marketing in the January issue of Western & English Today, a trade magazine for the Western and English equine industry.

Also quoted were Carol Cone, cause-marketing grandee, and David Hessekiel, the founder of the Cause Marketing Forum and a subscriber to this blog.

Follow this link to the excellent article by Carol Gustafson and read it online. It begins on page 58.

You can also read all the questions Carol Gustafson posed to me last November along with my answers here.

PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics

In my never-ending quest to root out new cause-related marketing buzzwords, I came across this one: “all-benefits companies.” It means companies that are in business to give away all their distributable profits after expenses and profits.

Newman’s Own is a prominent example, but I came across the expression on the website for PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics.

We all know the story of Newman’s Own. Paul Newman and his friend, author A.E. Hotchner whipped up a batch of salad dressing and sold it to neighbors. It was an instant and unlikely success… as a funny little slide show on the company website explains… that led to an extensive food product line. Since 1982 Newman’s Own has given more than $200 million to charity.

According to its website, PeaceKeeper has set a very similar goal for itself.

PeaceKeeper sells a line of mineral makeup including lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm, and nail polish. The products, PeaceKeeper tells us, are made without a long list of harmful (usually artificial) chemica…

How to Keep from Spreading Your Charity Brand too Thin

The Entertainment Industry Foundation, a federated charity founded in 1942 by Samuel Goldwyn, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and the Warner Brothers, has always held a wonderful fascination for me.

Nowadays you’re likely to know about the EIF because of the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance, co-founded by Katie Couric after the death of her husband Jay Monahan to colorectal cancer, and administered under the auspices of the Foundation. But EIF’s other major initiatives include their Women’s Cancer Programs, National Arts and Education Initiative, and Diabetes Aware.

But IEF also has a number of other minor initiatives as well as donor-advised funds supervised by such luminaries as rockers the Blackeyed Peas, former Bondman Pierce Brosnan, the Animal Actors Guild (I can only assume Lassie barks her orders at board meetings), American Idol softy Randy Jackson, and others.

Their mission statement goes like this:
“The Entertainment Industry Foundation, as the leading charitable
orga…

Optimizing Your Website for Word of Mouth

Last Thursday, January 10, I heaped praise on the TOMS Shoes use of strategic cause-related marketing to improve the world, launch their business, and generate terrific word of mouth.

Their appeal is specific, easy to understand, and streamlined. For every pair of TOMS Shoes you buy, another pair is donated to a child who needs them.

I also greatly admired their “shoe drops,” whereby they invite customers to join them in places like South Africa and Argentina… at their own expense… to give away TOMS shoes to kids. TOMS, I wrote, was well on its way to creating a “cult brand,” like Harley-Davidson, Jimmy Buffet, or the Star Trek franchise.

I did suggest there was more that TOMS could do to their website to make it more word of mouth friendly and left it at that.

One person anonymously commented on the post, saying, in effect; “alrighty, smart guy, what would you do to optimize a website for word of mouth?”

Glad you asked.

I would do at least the following:
TOMS should add to their menu bar a …

Cause Marketers: Let’s Launch a Virtual Meeting Space

Choreographing a Digital Spark

One of the cardinal principles of adult education theory is that the most meaningful learning frequently takes place between students, and the teacher’s role is to moderate more often than lecture.

It’s true in cause-related marketing. Organizations like Children’s Miracle Network, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and St Jude Children’s Research Hospitals all hold periodic conventions for the people in the field that raise money. The conventions serve to unite disparate groups, provide a forum for unveiling new campaign elements, build camaraderie, spark ideas, etc.

Any of that can happen in meeting rooms, but often as not it takes place in the hallways, over meals or drinks.

David Hessekiel’s Cause Marketing Forum serves a similar purpose. Likewise, IEG’s annual Sponsorship Conference and the Business in the Community Annual Conference in the UK.

But what if your need is more immediate? What if you’re from a distant part of the globe? What if you don’t hav…

Streamlined Cause-Related Marketing is Good for the Sole

TOMS Shoes of Santa Monica, California has taken a page from MAC Cosmetics and created a strikingly straightforward cause-related marketing promotion. When you buy a pair of their shoes, another pair is given to a kid who needs them.

Here’s the language from the TOMS website: “you buy a pair of TOMS and I give a pair to a child on your behalf.”

The shoes are Blake Mycoskie’s more fashionable take on the traditional Argentine slip-on shoe called an alpargatas. Mycoskie, who didn’t have any prior fashion or shoe industry experience before starting TOMS, found alpergatas on a trip to Argentina. He also found a lot of Argentine kids running around shoeless. He loved the shoes and put the two notions together.

“I said, I’m going to start a shoe company, and for every pair I sell, I’m going to give one pair to a kid in need,” Mycoskie told Time Magazine.

The shoes are modestly priced and come in a range of materials and colors. TOMS and Mycoskie get tons of publicity. The shoes are sold in trad…

The Secret Sauce of Cause-Related Marketing

I have put off this post for a very long time, mostly because when I’ll tell clients and others the Secret Sauce of breakout cause-related marketing I’m more likely to get a look of doubt than a nod of understanding. Kinda like the look on my face when I read that Disney’s High School Musical brand has passed the $1 billion mark in operating profits.

Here’s what prompts this post. People approach me all the time asking, “how is it that Children’s Miracle Network manages to raise more than $30 million every year with something as simple as a paper icon campaign. Or, “how does Susan G. Komen keep finding new sponsors when we can’t seem to find even one? Or, “explain to me how St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital raised more than $8 million from Chilis and their customers when fundraising campaigns at the casual dining chains have traditionally been death for other charities?

I tell them the Secret Sauce to breakout cause-related marketing and then I get the look.

Most people just don’t be…

Fearless Predictions About Cause-Related Marketing in 2008

Last September, at the request of San Francisco blogger Gayle Roberts, I posted my predictions on the future of cause-related marketing. With the coming of the New Year it makes sense to re-release this post.


I have a spotty record predicting the future. I bought a Zip drive about a week before the first USB drive came out. And then, admiring the portability of said USB drives, I bought 2 of them with 56K of memory for about $50 a pop. I have two complete sets of the 1987 Topps baseball cards (which includes the rookie cards for Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire) still in the original shrink-wrap. They’re worth almost exactly what I paid for them. Or rather less, considering the ravages of inflation. (I also have a first edition of Hayduke Lives by Edward Abbey in very fine condition that has more than doubled in value. So, I’m not always dead wrong.) So imagine my surprise to get a short missive from Bay-area fundraising consultant Gayle Roberts asking me to weigh in on the topic of “Predicti…

Bottom Nine Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

'Top Eight' 'Bottom Nine' What Do I Have Against the Number 10?


I was contemptuous of a pretty good number of cause-related marketing campaigns and cause marketing ads in 2007. Nine of them make my list for the worst campaigns of 2007. [Read my list of the best eight cause-related marketing campaigns here.]

But only one gave me a visceral reaction. That was an ad in BabyTalk Magazine by American Greetings and featuring the Sesame Street character Elmo. The ad had the look and feel of a cause-related marketing campaign meant to benefit kids in Third World countries

“Instead… as you read the fine print… you learn that Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit which produces Sesame Street and other children’s shows, applies the money it earns from its licensees to underwrite the production of versions of Sesame Street in other countries. Sure, and when I fill up on gas at CITGO stations kids in Venezuela are able to go to college.”

The only reason this ad didn’t lead the list is because…

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.


Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…